Saturday, Sep 30

Riley Herbst / Ryan Preece Dover Transcripts

Ford drivers Riley Herbst and Ryan Preece participated in a Ford media availability session earlier today in advance of this weekend’s NASCAR action at Dover Motor Speedway.  Herbst currently sits fourth in the NASCAR Xfinity Series point standings while Preece is looking to bounce back from the bad luck that has plagued him for most of the season, including on Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway when he got caught up in a late-race accident.

RILEY HERBST, No. 98 Monster Energy Ford Mustang (NXS) – WHAT IS THE KEY TO GET THINGS TURNED AROUND AFTER THE LAST COUPLE OF WEEKS? “I don’t really think there’s one thing.  I feel like at Richmond we would have had a top three finish if we didn’t get wrecked.  In Martinsville, we should have finished sixth to eighth, so that should have been another top 10 but we got wrecked as well.  And Talladega is Talladega, so I feel like our speed is there and just get back to what we’ve been doing at the start of the year and we’ll be just fine.”


HOW BENEFICIAL HAS IT BEEN TO HAVE COLE AS A TEAMMATE? “Very, very beneficial.  As you see, the program itself has been elevated because of Cole and what he’s brought to this program is a lot of experience and a lot of knowledge for me to ask questions and lean on and I feel like it’s kind of translated to on-track success as you guys saw for the first six weeks as well.”


WHAT DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU’VE IMPROVED ON? “I think there’s a lot of things, not just one.  Consistency on and off the racetrack.  Working with my crew chief Richard Boswell and understanding our goals.  How to execute on our goals.  My life outside of racing is very good.  I’m extremely happy when I get to the racetrack while I’m at the racetrack and I think that leads to a lot of success.  I’m confident every time I strap in behind the wheel.  I enjoy what I do, so I think that also leads to good results and looking forward to continuing this season.”


WHAT WILL IT TAKE TO GET YOUR FIRST XFINITY WIN? “Just keep knocking on the door.  Showing up to the racetrack each week I feel we have a shot to win. I feel like we have a good shot, if not an even better shot this weekend at Dover, a track I enjoy.  I know we’ll have good speed, so I’m looking forward to it and if it’s not Dover, then we’ll head to Darlington and go try to win there.”


HOW MUCH DIFFERENCE HAVE YOU SEEN IN THE REAR-END HOUSING RULES? “I don’t think it really changes how we race much.  I think that the balance or the handling of the car has changed quite a bit, honestly from every single racetrack – from short tracks to intermediates – and, honestly, I’d even say road courses but we haven’t run at a road course yet.  That’s kind of my guess before we head to Sonoma here in a few weeks, but it has definitely changed the handling a little bit and we’re all trying to get used to it as well.”


HOW MUCH HAVE THE CUP RACES HELPED YOU FROM A LEARNING STANDPOINT? “The circumstances and things like that, it was more of just getting my feet wet and complete all the laps.  We did complete all the laps in the 500 and this past weekend at Talladega, which we considered a success and the people around me considered a success.  I was happy with the result of the 500 and I felt like we could have been a few spots higher at Talladega as well, but, all in all, it was a success and hopefully we get some more opportunities.”


DID YOU LOOK AT MANY HIGHLIGHTS OF THE HEMRIC WRECK AND HOW MUCH OF HIS UNDERCARRIAGE DID YOU SEE? “I don’t have many comments on that wreck.  I think it could have easily been avoided and, in my opinion, it should have been avoided.  It was a late block with six to go that I think Sheldon was already to his door number and the only thing I saw was I think he has fruit on the hood of his car.  It was like a big strawberry in my face and the next thing I know I’m in the infield care center.”


WHAT IS THE BEST ADVICE YOU’VE RECEIVED FROM KEVIN HARVICK? “It’s really an honor to be a part of KHI.  The things he’s helped me with on the racetrack is a lot and the things he’s helped me with off the racetrack is just as much.  Just understanding the way a race flows and helping me understand the ups and downs of a race through one event and how you have to be there at the end to try to win one of these races.  You can’t win the race in the first stage, but then as we’ve progressed he’s told me other things about how important it is with stage points and when to be aggressive and when to hold back a little bit.  His advice and mentorship has meant the world to me and I feel like it’s helped me perform at a higher level for sure.”


THE PERKINS ACCIDENT.  WHEN YOU LOOK AT IT DOES IT MAKE YOU REFLECT ON WHAT YOU’RE DOING FOR A PROFESSION? “Quite frankly it’s when can we get the race started again.  I wanted to get going and I think you could ask anybody in the field and it was the same thing.  I think we understand the inherent danger of this sport, but we love it.  I got in a big wreck and the next morning I strapped into a Cup car and went for 500 miles, so I don’t really think we think too much of the danger.  It’s just not how we’re wired when it comes to that.  We want to keep it going and try to go win the race.”


DID YOU GET A LOOK AT RYAN PREECE’S ACCIDENT FROM THE IN-CAR VIDEO AND WHAT STANDS OUT TO YOU WITH WHAT HIS BODY WENT THROUGH?  IS THERE ANYTHING YOU CAN DO WITH YOUR BELTS OR OTHER EQUIPMENT? “There’s a lot there.  First off, I kind of wished we had those high-speed cameras in the Xfinity cars as well because I’d be curious to compare what I looked like compared to Ryan because the incidents were actually very, very similar.  What’s odd to me is how different the two race cars looked.  I can’t really expand on that because I don’t know much about the building of the race car, but my race car is gone.  It’s going to the shredder and Ryan Preece’s race car is in the shop next store.  I actually think it went over to NASCAR, so I just thought that was interesting to look at the comparison of the wrecks.  The 5 car went up the track and got t-boned by the 41 and in my case the 11 went up the track and I t-boned him, so I’d be curious to see what mine looked like.  It looked brutal from Ryan’s point of view and it was kind of scary to watch it a little bit to the previous questions.  I don’t really like watching Ryan’s in-car that much.”


WITH WHAT YOU SAW DO YOU FEEL YOUR BODY WENT THROUGH SIMILAR THINGS? “I think it was similar.  I was talking to Ryan on the flight home and I think we were complaining about the same things – a little bit of stiffness in the neck and things like that.  He has a different tub than I have as well, and we obviously have different body styles and shapes, so that’s the only thing I could take from it.  I know that I adjusted my seatbelts yesterday.  People from HMS came to adjust some lowers and subs just to get more comfortable at a high frontal impact like that.  Other than that, I feel like I’m good and ready to strap in the car at Dover.”


THE CHANGE IN THE BELTS.  WAS THAT A RESPONSE TO LAST WEEKEND OR WAS IT SOMETHING YOU WERE ALREADY LOOKING AT DOING? “A response to this past weekend.  It was uncomfortable and I feel like the new situation, God forbid it happens again, I feel like it would be more comfortable.”

RYAN PREECE, No 41 Ford Mustang (Cup) – HOW ARE YOU FEELING TODAY? “I feel fine. Obviously, when you wreck, you’re going to be a little sore. I felt fine when I got out of the race car, Monday I was a little sore but I was still able to do my workouts and everything I wanted to do, and I woke up today and felt fine. So, just obviously the mindset is everything. Just looking forward to Dover and hoping that we get qualifying in, because as a lot of you guys know, track position is huge, and we unfortunately haven’t been able to get the amount of points that we’ve been working towards. But no, I feel good.”


DID YOU LOOK AT THE IN-CAR CAMERA FROM THE INCIDENT, AND WAS THE REACTION CONSIDERED NORMAL? “Well, I can tell you that I lived it – first-hand experience. Then going back and seeing it… you’re wrecking and it never feels great. But, all the safety, what everyone does to mount my seat, seatbelts – everything you do in precaution for a wreck like that and everything did its job. I’m going over to the [NASCAR] R&D Center tomorrow after our sim session to go over the wreck with them and kind of let them know how I felt during it and after it and, obviously, NASCAR is working to keep evolving and keeping us drivers safe. I think that’s obviously always the No. 1 priority – making sure none of us get hurt.”


DO YOU GET INVOLVED IN ANY OF THE AFTERMATH DISCUSSIONS WITH NASCAR? DO YOU WANT TO KNOW WHAT’S BEING DONE? “It’s tough to say. At the end of the day I want to know about my race car and those things. But yeah, if I feel comfortable in my cockpit, I feel safe. Anything outside of that with car structure and those items, I can only protect the things that are in my little realm, and I make sure that I try to feel as comfortable and safe as I can in there. But, at the end of the day, I got up at 6:30 in the morning, I came into SHR, worked out, and did all those things. So, very lucky to have a great group of people putting safety first at this organization. I’m ok.”


HOW MOTIVATED ARE YOU FROM THE LAST THREE RACES HEADING INTO DOVER, SEARCHING FOR THAT FIRST TOP-10 OR EVEN VICTORY OF THE SEASON? “It’s frustrating because we’ve had a lot of races where we’ve had good speed. I’ve always said that you have to start with top-15s or top-10s – consistently running there – then top-fives and chasing wins. I feel like, especially the past four weeks, we’ve been putting races together to have opportunities like that. And just at the end of the race, a lot of things… chaos just breaks out, and sometimes you’re the bug and sometimes you’re the windshield. Ultimately, it’ll be nice when we’re the windshield and not the bug. But, I’m proud of the fact that our team, our pit crew – Chad [Johnston]’s doing a great job – everybody, including our engineers, are working together. That’s what it takes. That’s something I’ve enjoyed listening to (Denny Hamlin’s podcast), because of his honest opinion of what it takes to win at this level now, and how much this sport has kind of involved. It doesn’t always take the fastest car to win anymore. Now it takes execution. That’s something I know that I’ve been focusing on for the past week or so and really just turning my attention more so to the little details that it takes to make sure that when lap 380 is there, that you’re still giving yourself an opportunity to have a chance at it.”


SPEAKING OF DENNY HAMLIN’S PODCAST, WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT THE MIDSEASON SINGLE ELIMINATION TOURNAMENT BRACKET CHALLENGE HE POSTED ON TWITTER? “So, I haven’t heard the details yet. Obviously, I’ve been seeing some posts on it, but a mid-summer class… something like that that’ll create some excitement… I think you have to be really willing to try things, and anything that creates hype is never a bad thing, right? But without knowing any of the details, I really don’t know. But, it certainly sounds pretty interesting.”


WHAT DO YOU HOPE YOU, NASCAR AND EVERYONE CAN LEARN FROM ASSESSING YOUR TALLADEGA CAR, AS WELL AS KYLE LARSON’S CAR? “I don’t design race cars, but right now you obviously feel the impact. It was probably one of the toughest hits I’ve ever taken in a race car, and I’ve hit walls with hung throttles on concrete, concrete walls with dirt behind them. I’m sure Kyle’s taken heavy hits or big flips in the past. Anything we can do to keep working to lessen the impact that we feel as a driver is certainly going to help. But as far as what they do with the information they are gathering, hopefully it’s going to be something that benefits us drivers sooner than later.”


IS HAVING LAST SEASON’S EXPERIENCE AT DOVER BENEFICIAL TO THIS YEAR? “That’s actually a race that I’ve been stressing to Chad about. I really felt like we had such a great race car last year. We just never got track position, and we actually had a tire go down a couple times. Then, I believe, when AJ [Allmendinger] lost a tire during the green flag pit cycle, we lost a lap or two and it just kind of put a damper on our day. But from a speed standpoint, we were really fast in practice and had a great race car. I feel like some of our baseline of what we decided to take for this weekend strongly goes off of that, and I have high expectations. As you all know, it’s Dover, it’s April and it tends to rain a lot up there. So hopefully we can at least get practice and qualifying in – or something for us – and not have to start 30th and work your way up the entire race.”


WHAT MENTALLY KEEPS YOU MOTIVATED, DESPITE A DIFFICULT START TO THE SEASON? “I would say the speed standpoint. It’s not like we run 25th or 30th. We just have bad days, right? COTA, you’re running top-seven or whatever it is, Richmond you’re around 10th to 12th all day, Bristol you have a good heat race and run pretty well and then Martinsville, you get the pole. It’s not like you’re just frustrated that you don’t have speed and getting poor results. It’s just, sometimes, there are things you try to control that you can’t control. You just have to wake up on Monday morning and reset. That’s something I try to do within our team – is lead by example. If I stop showing up and doing the things I should be doing well, then everyone else is going to do the same. I try to make sure that every Monday is a new week. It doesn’t matter if it was a good day or a bad day. It’s business as usual.”


THAT SOUNDS LIKE THE KEVIN HARVICK MENTALITY – JUST DOING THE SAME THING WEEK-TO-WEEK REGARDLESS. “Well, I’ve heard that quite a bit. Kevin’s been a really, really great teammate for me and somebody I really lean on. So, I guess it’s really starting to rub off here.”




DID YOUR HEAD HIT THE STEERING WHEEL DURING THE TALLADEGA INCIDENT? “I got to be honest with you: Things happen really fast in a race car, and I don’t think so? Maybe it did, maybe it didn’t. As you can see, it didn’t change a whole lot with me sitting right here.”


WHAT ARE YOUR TAKEAWAYS FROM THE INCIDENT REGARDING SAFETY OF THE NEXT GEN CAR? “Well, I think there are always things that you can do to improve, right? There are ways that we can help us drivers. I feel like I’m pretty fricken tough when it comes to taking hits or whatever, so I feel good. But, you’re still sore. It’s not like you’re not. There are certainly things that we can do to continue critiquing and making the car better, so we drivers aren’t as sore. however we crash. Something that my body does naturally, apparently after watching this wreck, is that last year they talked about drivers pushing their head back before they wreck to make sure that they didn’t slam their head and cause a concussion. Well, my body just naturally does that before impact, so I’m very lucky that my instinct to mind is to brace. I haven’t got a concussion. So to speak on that: Yeah, Kyle and I are very lucky. We’re lucky that we’re able to help the process to continue to make the car safer. We both wrecked and we’re ok. So, it’s good.”


HAS THERE BEEN A NOTICEABLE ADJUSTMENT RETURNING TO A FULL-TIME NASCAR SCHEDULE? “For me, racing once a week has been something out of the norm. Usually, I’m used to racing two… three… four times a week – or five times a week like some of the other guys. When you get to this level, it’s focused on one division and one car, racing once a week. So, last year was more of an adjustment not racing all the time than it was this year getting into that groove and having a routine. I’d say this year has been easier to adjust to than last year.”


DID YOU MAKE ANY CHANGES IN RESPONSE TO THE ACCIDENT AT TALLADEGA? “Kevin called me yesterday and we were kind of talking about it. One of the things he said was, ‘Man, you moved a lot,’ and I said ‘Yeah, I guess I have a lot of mass that those seatbelts have to hold in.’ Kevin made a great point yesterday because I had the opinion that everything did its job – I feel great, so why change anything? But, he brought up the point that you can always make it better. You can look at it like: ‘Ok, how do you feel here?’, ‘What can you do differently with your belts or Hans?’ Something I do as a driver is I don’t clip my shield all the way down. So, if there was an event, you probably want to do that, and what’s stopping you from doing that? Kevin’s really good at helping you raise questions to yourself to continue to push whether it’s safety, performance or whatever. There are a few items that I’m going to go back and look at and say, ‘Hey, can we maybe look at changing this or that?’ But, I’m still really happy with everyone in SHR who mounts my seat, or the way we put our seatbelts and the devices that we use for safety. I’m proud of the job they do because at the end of the day, I was able to do everything I wanted to do yesterday.”


WHY DID YOU NOT CLIP YOUR VISOR? “Just for me, it’s a habit. I never clipped my visor completely down. That’s a half-inch of area. I can’t give you an answer of why I do it. I just do it.”


HAVE A LOT OF PEOPLE BEEN REACHING OUT IN SUPPORT AFTER YOUR CRASH? “Quick little story: My house actually got struck by lightning two weeks ago, so I lost my internet in my garage – which if I don’t have internet in my shop, I don’t have a cell phone signal. So, I have to leave it at the window. My phone kept going off and I kept having to walk away from what I was doing to go over there. But, you’re thankful for people caring. I got a lot of text messages from people of different organizations, a lot of drivers and people I used to race with. It was a lot more text messages than I really thought I’d get. People want to see you ok, so that’s a good thing.”


WHAT CONVERSATIONS ARE YOU HAVING WITH NASCAR BETWEEN RECEIVING FEEDBACK FOR QUESTIONS YOU MAY HAVE OF THEIR FINDINGS? “I know, from what I believe, Kyle went over there yesterday and I’m going over there tomorrow to kind of just go through what I felt and how I feel, and some of those things to try to give them input and let them give their analysis on everything. Obviously, we don’t ever want to be in a ‘What happened?’ situation, where we have bad conversations. We’re very lucky that Kyle and I can go over there and use this as a moment to continue evolving this car and making it better. I’ll have my conversations tomorrow.”


WHEN YOU TAKE A HIT LIKE THAT, DOES IT REMIND YOU OF HOW DANGEROUS THE SPORT IS? “I think it certainly puts perspective to it. As drivers, you don’t want to take any more risks than you already are. Whether it’s an unpopular opinion for the answer I’m going to give: It’s still dangerous. This is a sport where every time you put that helmet on, there are risks involved in this job. I understand that and have always understood that. That’s why you tend to race a certain way, trying not to put your fellow racer or anybody in a bad situation where you ever have to be a part of something like that. We’re all a little crazy to do this, but we love it for a reason. I’m very lucky and I understand that, but it’s great to be at NASCAR’s top level, perform and do this.”

Ford Performance PR


No right click

Please link the article.